Many considerations must be given when selecting a wood floor product. Here we will share the many types, sizes, colors, application methods, and the variety of wood floor species on the market today. This information is a general, overall foundation in helping you start your search. Always look at several product lines, make comparisons as to wear warranties, thickness, type of construction, type and number of finish coats, along with the many other important specifics outlined herein.
Seek out FAQs when considering the purchase of a wood floor product.

Entry / Foyer

Custom One-Of-A-Kind designs are popular for foyers, including medallions, feature strips, accents and/or borders. Foyers tend to be more formal than not. Making a design statement in this area has most recently become a new wood flooring trend. Using outside walk-off mats and if there is no design, area carpets inside will help in keeping wear down.
Kitchens/Family rooms: These are most common spaces for wood floor installation in new construction. The ease of care, open floor plans, and the flow of traffic make this a very popular area for wood floors. Dark and white/bleached wood floors do NOT fare well in this area because of the high traffic, food & water continuously being on the floor. In some very grainy species, the direction of the wood floor can add to the wear of the product. NOTE: Kitchen wood floors should be screened (lightly sanded) and recoated as needed, say every 6-18 months, depending on the amount of traffic and cleaning habits. Make sure the finish used is recommended by the manufacturer and/or is a compatible with what you have. Good cleaning habits are very important part of maintaining a wood floor, high traffic or not. Clean regularly, and always wipe food & water spillage immediately.

Formal Living and Dining Rooms

Most often a more traditional formal setting, darker in color with the combination of oriental carpets. This area also often receives border inlays, with turning blocks or corner accents to add a Custom-One-of-A-Kind floor. Design considerations for this area often will be compatible with the furniture being used. Not matching the exact color but a darker or lighter color in the same family of the floor color, thus complimenting each other. Remember the darker the floor, the smaller the space will appear, and maintenance consideration will increase.

Bathrooms

A bathroom that receives daily use would not fare well with wood floors, due to continued moisture exposure. On the other hand a guest bathroom not used on a day to day basis could be considered. Make sure to use area carpets/mats, and always immediately wipe up any water.

Home offices, Bedrooms

Wood Floors work well in bedrooms, often with area carpets being used. Office settings lean toward the traditional darker colors, and bedroom are a 50/50 tossup on colors used.

*NOTE: Rolling furniture, chairs, TV stands etc., can damage the finish very quickly, if used day to day. Make sure the floor is protected and/or the rollers are not made of metal or other damaging materials. Regular maintenance is required.

Is this a high traffic area?

The finish and color will be affected by this. Darker colors tend to show traffic quicker, where as natural wood colors of oak and maple do not. High traffic areas need special attention when it come to recoating. Screening (light sanding) should be a part of the preventative maintenance program for your wood floors in these areas. Application of 1 or 2 coats as needed (every 6-18 months) is a good sound way to protect your investment. Make sure the finish being applied is compatible with what is there and is of the shine that will work well in that area. Satin or low shine urethanes tend to show less traffic patterns than do the higher gloss finishes. Walk-off mats are strongly suggested for these areas, ie- working areas of a kitchens, entry ways, entries/doorways from the outside.



What type of wood do you like or will fit the area?

Some types are more traffic friendly than others; Is this species to "grainy" or busy looking ? Some species are harder than others. Maple is harder than oak; has less grain, yet maple can not be stained. Remember, the type of finish and number of coats can also determine how well your floor will fair in high traffic areas.



What color will work with the decor?

Some darker colors make rooms look smaller, show traffic patterns quicker. Lighter, or natural color (oak & maple being the most popular) of wood floor species can give an open, airy feeling, making the room appear larger. With today's color trends this is of the most popular selections now being made by the consumer, in home and office alike. Your floor should complement the fabrics, furnishings and accessories already present in the space, as well as enhancing the unique personality of the room as a whole. The most popular color : red oak natural, maple natural running second, but with today's eclectic decoration styles, anything goes. Darker colors - Formal or traditional interiors, Lighter colors - country, casual and contemporary settings. There are many choices when selecting the right floor for the rooms in your home, as there are many species, colors and grain variations for you to consider.



Who is helping you make these choices?

Builders tend to stay with they same product that has worked for them before; decorators tend to use color as the number one reason for choosing a particular product, which may not be suited for the area. Whether a pre-finished or job finished product, have a sample of the wood floor material to make comparisons with other products and materials, such as the fabrics, paint colors and furniture being used in the room.



Who will maintain these floors?

That person needs to know the product as does the purchaser, most of time that is the same person, but not always. Knowing The Do's & Don'ts and Maintenance Procedures is very important. Make sure that information is provided to you and is a part of your contract. After the floor is installed, and this material is provided to you, this is a good time to purchase a wood floor cleaning kit, right from the get go!

All these question, as well as many others, are very important parts of the process in choosing the right hardwood floor for you. Not knowing all the answers could cause you concerns down the road. Most importantly, as we go through the selection process getting an experienced, and knowledgeable contractor who knows wood floors is one of the best things you can do.!

DO NOT depend solely on your general contractor or design consultant. In the end, an improper installation will only cost you the home owner, over and above, whether its more money, more down time or having to involve an attorney, or ALL of the above. Make sure you are dealing with a reputable wood flooring retailer/contractor.

Trying to determine what wood floor product is right for the conditions they will be installed; what conditions they will subjected to; and last but not least, is this the right floor for you?
Some floors are more pleasing than others, but may not work in your conditions, or may not work well with the traffic they will receive. The color you like may be OK with the decor, but bad for wear patterns. The type of wood, say pine for example, (not a hardwood), does not stain well and is softer than oak causing it to "dent" more. Many factors should play a part in your decision about the choices you make when it comes to hardwood floors.

This listing of what is available, as to sizes, the many colors, type of application and species we hope will help you in making an educated choice. Remember manufacturers products vary from one to the next.

Acrylic Impregnated

A pre-finished product that through a high pressure treatment, acrylic and color are forced in the pores throughout the thickness of the wood. The "finish" is inside the wood, creating an extremely hard surface. These floors are highly resistant to abrasion and moisture and
appeal most often to commercial installations, but can be used residentially. The many styles available are the same as laminated floors.


Engineered wood flooring

Laminate wood flooring is produced by bonding layers of veneer and lumber with an adhesive. Laminate wood flooring is available in pre-finished and unfinished. These products are more dimensionally stable and are ideal for glue-down installation or float-in installation above grade, on grade or below grade, including basements and humid climates.


Engineered wood flooring is produced in:

Strip - thickness of 5/16", 3/8", 1/2" 9/16" or 5/8" and in widths of 2" and 2-1/4"
Plank - thickness of 5/16", 3/8", 1/2" 9/16' or 5/8" and in widths of 3" to 8"
Parquet - one-piece wood tile available in 9" x 9" or 8" x 8" and other patterns

Engineered Wood Floring


Pre-finished wood flooring

Pre-finished Wood Flooring

Pre-finished wood flooring is factory sanded and stained and finished flooring that only needs installation. This product is produced in many colors, finishes, species and sizes (solid & engineered).

Solid wood flooring
Solid wood flooring is completely lumber. It is available in unfinished and pre-finished. Solid wood flooring is produced in:
Strip - in thick ness of 1/2" or 3/4" in widths of 1-1/2, 2" and 2-1/4"
Plank - in thick nesses of 1/2" or 3/4" and widths of 3" to 8"

Solid Wood Flooring

Saw Blade

Parquet - geometrical patterns composed of individual wood slats held in place by mechanical fastening or an adhesive.


Unfinished wood flooring

Unfinished flooring is a product that must be job-site sanded, stained if desired, and finished after installation. This has been the American staple in hardwood floors for many years. Commonly called "Strip flooring", this product has not changed for many years as to size, cuts & grades. A 3/4" thick unfinished strip floor can be sanded from four(4) to six(6) times in it's lifetime.

Unfinished Wood Flooring


Each Category having 3 Sub-Categories of:

Parquet- wood pieces forming a pattern/design-thick nesses of 1/4"- 5/16" 1/2" & 3/4" mostly glue down.

Plank- board face widths 3" & up to 12" with thick ness from 1/4", 5/16", 3/8",5/8", 9/16" and 3/4", glue or nail down.

Strip- usually considered the "hardwood floor", face width sizes of 1 1/2", 2 1/2" and 2 1/4", with 1/2" and 3/4" thick ness, glue or nail down NOTE: As a rule 3/4" products are mostly nailed (larger parquet patterns are both nailed and glued)


Specifics about choosing a wood floor product:

Now that we know there are many, many products to choose from, let's get a little more specific about what you should be considering in the decision making process. These requirements should always be in the equation of what type of floor is right for you, your conditions, and your budget. Most importantly, this will educate you, and your contractor about what is required for a proper and satisfactory installation. The following list of requirements should be covered and/or included in specifications and contracts before the wood floor installation begins. Never assume the top grade or cut is being used


Subfloor:

What will it be? Manufacturer's specifications and recommendations of the product must be followed in conjunction with industry guidelines. Over concrete slabs, lets say, 1/8" of deviation in 10 feet is the norm. Knowing what applications methods for the product you choose is very important. This should be one of the first consideration given when purchasing. Plywood subfloors should not contain more than 4 % +/- of moisture than the flooring being laid over it. NEVER allow a wood floor product to be laid over "particle board, chip board, wood composite products". This will cause squeaking and movement, as these subfloor products do not have proper holding strength over the life of the floor being laid. Many manufacturers will not warranty their products over this subfloor. Unfinished strip or plank can not be installed directly on concrete, whereas engineered products are made for that type of installation, above or below grade. The surface floor (wood floor product) is only as sound and secure as the subfloor it is attached to.


Installation:

What type of installation method is required ? What is the nailing schedule (how far apart are the nails placed) or what type of adhesive is needed (always use manufacturers adhesive products-if not warranties may be voided). Has the wood floor material been properly handled prior to installation ? Has it acclimated at the job site( In HVAC conditions- those that are normal for the area under regular living conditions?), Are the moisture contents of the wood floor products and the subfloor compatible? Whether you, your architect, builder, or designer helps in the decision making about your wood floors, you must do your homework. The following are additional details you must consider, or have specified when knowing what hardwood floor will be installed.

Species:

What type of wood do you want? It's important, for example oak floors could mean ten (10) or so different products, of 3 different grades. Is Domestic or Exotic species desired?


Grade:

Different species have different standards, some none at all. The higher the grade the "clearer" or more top of the line the product is.


Cut:

The angle in relation the grain as the log goes through the saw, 3 cuts are standard, plain, quartered, or rift sawn: The harder cut (quarter sawn has closer pours, thus making moisture less of an intruder.)


Dimensions:

What is the thickness and width of the floor you have chosen ? What are the lengths? This could important if adjoining floor covering at doorways are not properly adjusted for. Some time the pattern of the product you have chosen may not be right for your installation. Always know or have specified the lengths, widths and thickness of the wood floor choice you made.


Pattern:

The most common is with strip or plank, the direction may depend on the subfloor joist (nail down), parquet may be in many patterns and/or designs from simple to intricate cuts and designs. Make sure this is spelled out in your contract, as to what direction the floor will be laid.


Color:

Always request a sample pre-finished or unfinished (including final finish type). Every manufacturer has their specific trademark color. Today the naturals (oak,and maple) are the most popular. Remember, there will always be some color variation between boards, as each piece may very well be from a different tree.

Make sure the above specifications are spelled out, this will ensure the product information is correct. This is very important as everyone involved in the process ( you, the architect, designers, builder/contractor and there associates) may not have the same specification details as you or the person helping you specify the job. Today there are a great number of products available, from thick ness, widths, styles, colors, patterns, and varieties. Remember all manufacturers have their own "trademark" colors, sizes & styles. For instance natural oak colored floors has more than 30 names throughout the industry. If it's an unfinished product, to be job finished, the sky is the limit on color.

Finally, check several retailers/contractors, there samples, and Showrooms, Ask for a sample that can be used to Teak to the areas that will receive the hardwood floor. Listen to input from your contractor, and design consultant. The floor you like may not suit the area. The color may not work with the overall scheme of the decor. Always ask questions, if in doubt, not sure, ASK! It's much better the know ahead what to expect, than after the fact and the floor is in place. The more specific information shared commonly among ALL participating parties, the less chance of misunderstandings and problems will occur.

Always know the above specifics, have them in writing, and get a sample and/or brochure about the product.

Research your contractor (typing "scam" at the end of their name in the Google may pull up interesting results), get references, do they have pictures of previous work? Is a license required , if so who pays for and obtains the license?

Get a written and properly executed contract!

How long will the job take? From delivery of an unfinished product, acclimation, through installation, finishing and molding installation, the time table can be 4-6 weeks for this part of the process.

What are the warranties and guarantee? Get it in writing as a part of the contract. Most contractors warrantee their work for 1 year, although they DO NOT warrantee the product. Look to the Manufacturer through their representatives (Distributors to Retailer) for ALL concerns about the product.

At what stage is the job ready for installation? - This should be closely scheduled with general contractor and/or other trades.

Will the contractor be doing the work himself? If not, then who will.

Request a walk through with the contractor (general and wood floor) and/or person who estimated the job. Make sure any concerns are dealt with as soon as possible.